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Internet At UK Universities Disrupted After Sustained Denial-Of-Service Attack

Students have reported that they are unable to access the internet, and some are struggling to submit crucial university assignments.

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A British university computer network has been under distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack since Monday morning, raising fears among students they might be unable to complete assessments.

BuzzFeed News understands that Janet, a publicly funded academic network, is suffering from connectivity issues that started yesterday morning and that the issue is affecting a number of universities.

Students at universities across the UK including Oxford, Warwick, Imperial, Nottingham, Exeter, UCL Manchester Metropolitan, and Aberdeen complained on a Reddit thread about the internet service at their university being frustratingly slow, blaming the problems on Janet.

There were also complaints at East Anglia, Hull, Teeside, and Lincoln.

Students said that where they have internet connected, website access is still limited. At some universities, students reported that they are unable to access cloud-based servers such as OneDrive and Office365, where many students store their work.

Some students are worried that the network issues might leave them unable to submit university assignments on time.

Not able to use Google during my prof assessment because of this #janet DDOS, definitely going to fail

Others said students taking online assessments were struggling to get through them due to the slow service. It is unclear whether these online assessments are ones provided by universities or part of job applications.

On Reddit, some students said they were particularly concerned as exams were scheduled to take place this week.

A student at the University of Warwick told BuzzFeed News he could access websites such as Facebook, BuzzFeed, BBC, Reddit, and Twitter, even if they loaded very slowly, but said access to many other websites was simply impossible.

The network said its engineers had confirmed it had come under a DDoS attack. This is when someone tries to attack a server by sending it lots of requests – too many requests for it to handle without becoming overloaded.

Distributed DoS attacks work by having lots of computers make the attack at once from different places, which makes it harder to block.

Tim Kidd, the executive director of Jisc technologies, said: "We are doing everything in our power to ensure normal service in resumed as soon as possible, and in the meantime to minimise any disruption that users of the Janet network may be experiencing. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Siraj Datoo is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Siraj Datoo at siraj.datoo@buzzfeed.com.

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